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How Do I Motivate My Children to Choose a Career in the Family Business?

I am commonly asked "How do I motivate my children to choose a career in my business?" Motivation is the ability to influence others to take action. Exterior influence, both positive and negative can generate short-term influence. However, as soon as the source of the influence is no longer present, the motivation begins to dissipate. My belief is that you cannot genuinely motivate someone. Your best hope is to help them internally choose a positive opinion towards your desired actions. 

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Succession Planning: Is There a Right Time to Start?

During a recent presentation, someone in the audience asked if there was a right time to begin putting a succession plan together. I didn't want to sound arrogant, so I simply replied, "Yes, of course there is. What time is it now?" 

Sooner or later, one or more generations involved in a family business wants to talk about succession planning. Sometimes the idea comes from the next generation to lead the business; other times it comes from the generation currently leading the business or from multiple generations simultaneously.

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How to Deal with the Sensitive Issues of Succession Planning

If you’ve been thinking about succession planning, you already know there’s a lot to consider.  Dealing with estate minimization, tax avoidance, gifting, buy/sell agreements, etc., etc., can give people major headaches.  And then there’s the human element associated with the transition of wealth, family leadership, and business concerns from one generation to the next, where we sometimes trade headache for heartache.  

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Help! My Parent Won’t Give Me the Chance to Lead the Business

Sometimes when my partners and I make a presentation at a national conference for one group or another, we go through a skit in which members of successive generations go back and forth over which generation should “call the shots.” It ends with the younger generation member saying something along the lines of, “Dad, when am I ever going to have THE seat at the table?  I’ve been carrying this business for the last 20 years and you’re still telling me what to do.  For crying out loud, I’m 53 years old!”  

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Thoughts on Succession Planning and the Business Life Cycle

As a succession planner I am avidly seeking to motivate business owners to take action. Unfortunately, I am not batting 1,000 due to a variety of reasons. Beyond my personality quirks and communication shortcomings, there are many business owners who do not want to become engaged. Irrespective of my attempt to demonstrate how "succession planning builds value" they have limited, if any, interest in addressing the issues that impact the continuation of business success. Timing may be bad or other priorities may be dominating if not consuming excess mental energy. Or perhaps these business owners lack the motivation and experience to spend time and money on something that will not fall strictly into their personal column of benefits. 

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Skip Generation Cross Purchase Agreement

A new client consisting of two 50/50 partners expressed a desire to develop a buy-sell agreement around life insurance policies that they had been sold prior to my engagement. This was an extraordinary business reflected by the unique synergy created by the 50/50 partnership. Each partner had brought unique skills sets to their business that had been affirmed by success beyond anyone’s imagination. The values involved were tens of millions. The planning initiative also involved the updating of estate document and the initiation of strategic gifting.

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The Value of Pre-Marital Agreements

Building a healthy, strong, and long-lasting marriage requires a lot of hard work. Good marriages don’t happen by default, they require intentionality and equality of contribution and effort by both spouses. Unfortunately, even the best of relationships endure many significant challenges. As one marriage psychologist said, “Marriage is really, really, really, really, really hard work for about the first 20 to 25 years…and then, it starts to get kind of good.” This may be an overly negative statement, but it reflects the reality that establishing the foundation of a long-lasting, healthy, and fulfilling marriage is not easy.

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Dealing with In-laws in a sibling partnership

I recently facilitated a reconciliation meeting between a brother and sister-in-law. Since the relationship between the brothers was good, I wondered how did the relationship between the brother and sister-in-law go sour? The sister-in-law was admittedly harboring bitterness toward her husband’s older brother because of her perception of how her husband was being treated in the family’s business. 

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3 Tips for In-Laws in the Family Business

The third step to navigating in-law in the family business is to avoid giving off the appearance that you are motivated by the opportunity to live on “easy street.”  If you see an opportunity to work in your spouse’s family business as just one of many options, and that the job in the family’s business is the best opportunity to fulfill the expression of your talents, strengths, capabilities, and training, then you may achieve success. If it doesn’t work out, that’s okay with you, as you will just move on to the next best option.  This will position you to make an unreserved commitment to the mission of the business and the existing leadership, which will provide for you the highest probability of success.

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In-laws - How to Avoid Becoming an Outlaw in the Family Business

Family dynamics are usually fairly intense among immediate family members. Throw in-laws into the equation and you can have potential build up of underground pressure leading to explosions of volcanic proportions.  Put this pressure in the context of a family business and the lava and ash flows can suffocate the life out of the family and business.  If you’re an in-law connected to a family business, beware, lest you become an outlaw.

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The Difference between a Family Member Employee and a Successor

A client who managed the family business alongside his two siblings recently told me his son was graduating and he wanted to develop a plan for his son to join the business. The client wanted this successor development curriculum so he could give his son the assurance that he was being fast tracked.  He stated it was very important for his son to catch up to his cousins who entered the business six years earlier, otherwise his son may not be considered as a viable successor candidate.  I responded with an explanation that a family business could have the good fortune to have more than one successor. 

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High Expectations are Confirmation of Your Family Standing

I have the unique opportunity to work with a lot of fathers who are also very successful business owners. Many of these men are regarded by their children as control freaks. I have written before about how to effectively deal with and manage these strong personalities, and it essentially all boils down to learning to set effective personal and professional boundaries and risk the relationship by challenging dad. Today, I want to offer a different perspective that entails getting into the mindset of your control freak dad. 

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Succession Planners, Exit Planners, Family Business Advisors: What’s the difference?

Succession planner, exit planner and family business advisor are terms often used interchangeably providing the assumption that they all share the same meaning. While the exit planner and family business advisor endeavor to address some components of succession planning, there is a clear distinction between their limited scope and the comprehensive mission of a succession planner.  

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How Do I Get People Focused on a Model of Excellence?

If you want people to focus, you have to give a clear picture of what you want to have happen. Business is a funny animal. Sometimes we start out building a racehorse, and we wind up with a camel that can be more stubborn than a mule. All three are useful; all have their place; and all can get you where you want to go. But the ride’s ease and comfort in getting there will be different. 

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Business Growth - Why Determining the Underlying Motivation is Critical to Success

I was interviewing the 4th generation son of a business owner recently and asked about his vision for the company. He described a very aggressive vision for growth through acquisitions and diversification into other locations and channels. This kid has been in the family business all of two years! The business has afforded him a very lucrative and flexible job during difficult economic conditions. Having never even been responsible for running a department within the business, I found this vision astounding. 

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Family and Business: Have You Been a Cheater?

Recently a friend shared a book with me titled Choosing to Cheat, by Andy Stanley. Choosing to Cheat is a quick read, but it is very intriguing and prompted me to do a little introspection. The author begins the book by stating that everyone cheats. Now before you wonder why a succession planner is talking to you about cheating, let me explain. This is a book about what can happen when family and business collide. 

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Sample - Operating Covenants

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Sample - Successor Development Program

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Sample - Family Member Performance Expectations

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Sample - Family Member Employment Policy

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